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Biochem J. 2009 Sep 14;423(1):129-43. doi: 10.1042/BJ20082277.

High ambient glucose induces angiotensin-independent AT-1 receptor activation, leading to increases in proliferation and extracellular matrix accumulation in MES-13 mesangial cells.

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Department of Pediatrics, Women & Infants Hospital, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02903, USA.


Diabetic nephropathy is associated with mesangial ECM (extracellular matrix) accumulation. We have shown that AT-1R [Ang II (angiotensin II) type I receptor] signalling induces ECM proteins via transactivation of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) in mesangial cells. In the present study, we examined the mechanisms underlying the effect of high ambient glucose on cell proliferation and ECM expansion in a mesangial context. High glucose induced increases in PI3K activity, proliferation and ECM accumulation in mesangial cells. These effects were abrogated by losartan, an AT-1R antagonist, but not by [Sar1,Thr8]-Ang II (Sar is sarcosine), an inactive analogue of Ang II, or by a neutralizing antibody against Ang I/II. Overexpression of a constitutively active PI3Kalpha or AT-1R alone was sufficient to induce similar changes by high glucose. In contrast, overexpression of an inactive AT-1R lowered the basal levels and rendered the cells non-responsive to high glucose. Moreover, cells overexpressing wild-type AT-1R had enhanced sensitivity to acute Ang II stimulation. These cells, however, did not respond to conditioned medium obtained from mesangial cells cultured in high glucose. We further demonstrated that iAng (intracellular Ang II) can be induced by high glucose but only under certain conditions. Efficient suppression of iAng by short hairpin RNA against angiotensinogen, however, did not affect high glucose-induced effects on MES-13 cells. These results suggest that high ambient glucose induces activation of AT-1R in an Ang II-independent manner to transactivate PI3K, resulting in proliferation and ECM accumulation in mesangial cells.

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